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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Is it Time for the Triple A Title to Evolve?

GameSpot has an interesting read regarding the former PlayStation boss talking about how AAA Game development is unsustainable.

Some solid points are made throughout, but I dare say that one thing stated I would agree with most is the overall length of games. The idea that a 10 to 15 hour game doesn't sell the numbers is a marketing tool that was used to fool gamers into believing they were getting their money's worth if the game wasn't 30+ hours.

In the adult world, games of that overall length are NOT worth the value being suggested. Why? I have dozens of titles that fit into that 30+ hour playtime length that I have NEVER finished. Honestly, I doubt I will. Why? Because half of that marketed time is filler. It is bloat. I don't want to push myself through hours of "play time" that practically put me to sleep.

Bethesda's Fallout 4
A game that is 10 to 15 hours with little to zero filler/bloat means a steady play through with plenty of time to tell a real story. Am I saying that there is no room for 30+ hour games? Of course not. There is definitely a market for it, and a game style that benefits from long play times.  Role Playing Games are a prime example of where a long playtime investment definitely works.  Much of the play style involved isn't just based around the concept of storytelling, but around grinding to build up your characters levels.  MMO style games do not fall into this issue much at all due to the overall designed intent towards those titles.  Those are games that are designed for long term investments of not just a weekend play through, but an experience that can quite literally span years.

Blizzard's World of Warcraft
I constantly finding myself going back to classic/retro titles not because of engaging stories, but because of the quick and easy pick up and play mechanic of the titles.  This is especially true of the classic "high score" arcade titles.  These are games that allow you to just pick up the game, jump into a quick playthrough, and feel rewarded for the experience.  It boils down to a high reward for low risk, or low investment experience.  My time is valuable, and I don't want to waste it on a game that I feel will feel burnt out midway through.

Much of the budget that goes into Triple A titles boils down to the person hours that go into programming the game itself. Also, another massive amount of the budget goes into the use of A list actors. I love having quality voice work in my games. Believe me when I say it has come a LONG way since the days of the old FMV titles of early CD-ROM titles on Sega CD and the following 32 bit era. There is a SLEW of talented voice actors that don't come with the talent costs associated with film and television talent. This is another throwback from the 90s era.

Activision's Apocalypse
I remember the Activision title Apocalypse for the original PSX. The big selling point was originally having Bruce Willis as your virtual second player character...much like how you have intelligent squad/team members in modern titles before the concept even existed. Of course, it transitioned into you playing AS Bruce Willis due to the AI being buggy. Did it help the game sell? Oh yeah. So much so that the game is essentially a cheap "common" for the console. This was a HUGE selling point for games. Now, it isn't such a big deal, unless you are playing a game based on a film/television franchise where the central character(s) is key to the game as a whole.

Overall, the point to consider here is that consumers need to embrace the shorter 10 to 15 hour game, or accept a higher price point on games with the 30 or more hours of play time.

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